Press release 10th July 2010
Hinkley site to be razed before full planning permission
Up to five hundred acres of species-rich woodland, hedgerows and fields may be destroyed by EdF even before it receives full planning consent from the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) to build its two massive nuclear reactors. A large hole will be excavated in preparation for foundations and the adjoining coastline, a protected area, may cemented and terraced and a huge jetty built into the estuary, in preparation for the eventual building works. All this will involve the movement of a million cubic metres of soil and rock.
EdF have signalled they wish to apply to West Somerset District Council to undertake the premature destruction well in advance of their expected planning submission to the IPC in December. The Commission will then take a year to decide for or against the nuclear building proposal, which will be signed off by a Minister.
West Somerset District Council have said due to its 'grand scale' they are committed to undertake a broader range of consultation than they are legally required to by holding events at towns which may be affected by the early disruption, such as Cannington which falls in the neighbouring local authority of Sedgemoor. The council wishes to involve parish councils and interest groups beyond their obligation to write letters to the directly local villages. The Council is waiting receive the application papers but cannot yet say when they will launch their consultation.
The proposals were outlined in a recent Community Forum Meeting held by EdF and attended by Stop Hinkley and other interested parties including councillors.*
The local village of Shurton has meanwhile achieved a small victory in forcing EdF to rethink its southern boundary, formerly alongside the homes and gardens of villagers. After a hail of objections the boundary is to be moved further north. The victory follows a planning decision in May where West Somerset District Council agreed with villagers that proposed trench digging was inappropriate so near peoples' homes.
EdF's 'Second Stage Consultation' is due to be launched tomorrow in a morning programme on Radio Somerset. The full consultation document is expected to be published on Friday with EdF's responses to feedback from the first consultation which ended in January, and its preferred options. It is widely expected to rule out the expensive by-pass from Hinkley to Dunball, allowing traffic to avoid Cannington and Bridgwater.
The reactor licence design is currently being investigated for safety by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate who expect to make a statement on EdF's preferred design in June next year. However the Generic Assessment Team, as it is known, has said any licence it issues may have 'exception' clauses within it, which must be resolved before any particular reactor is switched on. This could include the controversial 'Control and Instrumentation' system which was considered flawed by the NII last year. Another design fault in the system which responds to changes in electricity demand was discovered in the French European Pressurised Reactor some months ago.
Stop Hinkley has joined other campaign groups in calling for a public inquiry over the 'Justification' of new nuclear power stations, which the Liberal Democrats, now part of the coalition Government have supported. Chris Huhne, who as Energy Secretary has ultimate responsibility for power stations, has said he does not believe the economics of nuclear power add up and will not allow public subsidies to nuclear power companies.
Jim Duffy, spokesman for Stop Hinkley said: "EdF are running six months behind schedule with their application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission and this may be their way of regaining time with their hopes to operate Hinkley C by December 2018. But it is utter vandalism to destroy all that wildlife long before any decisions can be made about the controversial nuclear reactors and puts unfair pressure on the planners and local community. EdF say they'll restore the site if they don't get permission but how do you restore a century old oak woodland or an ancient hedgerow?"
"EdF have lots of hoops to get through before they get permission to build. They should hold off till the final yea or, preferably, nay. Meanwhile West Somerset people should say no to this travesty."